The Dance Continues

A race for fillies and mares at $7500 was drawn the other day and did not fill. It COULD have gone with six if we chose to enter but Clay strategically declined to enter. The thought is that if the $7500 doesn’t fill, the $10,000 might now with some of those going into the $10,000 along with legitimate $10,000 horses as well as a couple that might not be able to get into a $16,000 that doesn’t fill either. That $10,000 race is scheduled to be run on July 6, the same as the Prairie Meadows race. We’d prefer to run here for a couple of reasons:

1) We would run at home so everyone can see her race;

2) No shipping – always better to stay home if you can for familiarity and safety;

3) No shipping charges. Though the purse is $3000 more than the race here, that means the winner’s share is $1800 more (if we were to win). Taking out round trip shipping the difference is $1000 – IF we can win. If she doesn’t…then we would have lost money vs staying here and winning.

The risk/reward appears to be in staying and running at $10,000 here. Now should this race not fill, then we will be looking elsewhere as well as here to run.

In other news, there were a few horses that we were looking at but for one reason or another (age, appearance, etc.), we passed. But we are still looking here as well as in Chicago and elsewhere to get our second horse.


Next Race

Interesting discussions have led to this blog post. We’ve talked about how hard it has been to find a race at a level we want to run at and some options. Clay and I discussed MJ’s next race and we’ve got some information and insight.

Clay was informed that filling the $10,000 claiming race that’s in the condition book for July 6 is going to be tough. We can’t get a $16,000 so we may have to settle for a $7500. Of course this really isn’t something that you want to do with a horse that you know is worth more than that but we have to race.

Here is where the Club differs a bit from “real life”. As many of you have seen by the comments, a lot of people want to get into the paddock and watch her run. If MJ was my own horse, I would send her to Arlington (or maybe Prairie Meadows). We would be able to get a race for her there at a level where we would have the balance of knowing she could win with if she were claimed we would have gotten our money’s worth from her. But she’s not my horse, she’s owned by the Club and a large part of this is for people to experience the paddock and watching their horse run live – we didn’t claim a horse for you all to watch her run elsewhere.

A possible preclusion from a claim: the new owner will be in the very same boat we are in right now trying to find her a race. But she’s ready and she needs to go so to paraphrase Crosby, Stills & Nash: If we can’t run in the race we want to run in, we’ll run in the one we’re given.

(Aside: we also have our sights set on a couple this weekend. More on that as it unfolds)

Financials Through May 31

Below is the link to the first spreadsheet for the 2014 Club. You’ll see with all expenses factored in (except for the vet – that bill is ALWAYS a slow one in coming) we’re down about $6,000 from when the group closed BUT we know we have a horse that is worth at least $10,000. All in all, not bad but we’re hoping to take some of that capital and get us our second horse this weekend and also get MJ into her next race as well.

We covered Clay’s training, MJ’s vanning from Hawthorne ($350), her shoeing, dentistry, pony to post and his winning commission and groom bonus.

2014 CBY RC Running Financials Mar – May

Why Is This So Hard?

A couple of questions keep popping up so it’s time for a more in depth explanation of how things are going and why some things seem so difficult; the questions are, generally: where is our next horse and when will Maryjean run again?

I’ll take them in order.


Clay and I have been trying very hard to find another runner to pick up for the Club. Many of the races being run at Canterbury are for conditioned claimers. After a horse breaks its maiden (wins for the first time) it will, if good enough, move into an allowance race or into the claiming ranks. Both are stratified into non-winners of 1, 2, 3 and sometimes 4 races other than a maiden win (for allowance races this is extended to include wins in claiming races as well). The problem with claiming a horse that only has a single condition left (usually the non-winners of 3) is that after that condition is met the horse needs to run against “open” claimers. These horses may have won a dozen times and. For the most part, once a horse moves through their conditions, they need to move down in class to compete because the competition gets more difficult.

An example:

We claim Club’s Dream out of a $10,000 claiming non-winners of 3 races lifetime. And the Dream wins. We get her back to the barn, she checks out okay but since the non-winners of 4 is a rare condition we have to run open. We run against other $10,000 open horses and finish 7th so we now need to run at $7500 or even $5000 to be competitive. We’ve just totally overpaid for a horse that is now worth much less than what we paid for her. It’s not a situation we want to be in. We have been looking for a horse that may have recently broken its maiden so WE can run through the conditions with her, but we have not found one to claim that Clay has liked.
We have also started looking at privately purchasing a horse and bringing it in from somewhere else to run for us. At this point I just want us to have another runner – one that we can’t get hurt too badly on if she doesn’t pan out. We can certainly learn from that as well.


We all know that MJ came back just fine and has been training well. Clay feels like she runs best on 3 weeks rest which would have been last weekend. Of course there wasn’t a race that fit her last weekend so we waited until the new condition book came out in the hopes that we would see another $10,000CL or $16,000CL race in the book. There was a $10,000, but not until July 6 and the only $16,000 was a conditioned claimer. We’re hopeful that the racing secretary will write a $10,000 or $16,000 before then so we can go. She needs a sprint and we’d prefer dirt. While we think she can handle turf, most of the turf contests are 7 ½ furlongs and up which is a bit beyond her range.

Another option is an allowance race. She’s eligible for an allowance non-winners of one lifetime other than maiden, claiming or starter. We have concerns about that, however, since, quite frankly, we don’t think she can win at that level and, if we run, and a race that we would have wanted fills a week later – then we wasted a race and we have to wait another 3 weeks or so for that race to come back so it becomes a bit of a dance to try and marry a race where we think she has a chance to win with the races available and being filled.

As a point of reference, I have two horses of my own that have yet to make a single start this season for various reasons – some listed here, some not , but they are ready to go and we’re restless as well.


I understand that there is a bill waiting for me when I get to the track tomorrow (Friday) evening. I will have those numbers added to the spreadsheet and post that so you can get a feel for the costs involved thusfar.
Jeff and I will be discussing possible dates for the backside tours so we should have those out this weekend as well. The signup will be similar to last year where we will ask you to send me an email with the date and number of folks that you will have and when the tour max is reached (50 people) we will close it off. Last year neither tour maxed out.

I would like to ask you all again to please read each other’s questions and the answers in the comments section of the each blog post. I don’t mind answering, of course, but there ends up being so much information in the comments section that you miss and, quite frankly, I don’t answer the same question the third time with as much depth as the first!

Remember that the aim of the Club is to be an educational experience and to give you a small taste of what it is like to be a racehorse owner. There is a lot of great stuff in this game but there is also a lot of difficult stuff that we have to navigate as well. Right now I know we’re not running as much as we’d like or have as many horses as we want to have. I hope the above gives you some insight into the processes and challenges involved – things don’t always go right, but we try and work with what we are dealt and make the best of it.

Questions Answered

On occasion Jeff and I get e-mail asking questions that we feel like may be brewing in the minds of many rather than the just the e-mailer. We’ve gathered some of those together and I’ll go ahead and answer them here. Keep them coming and I’ll sporadically post the Q&A here on the blog!

I guess that leads me to another point – please go ahead and read through the comments that amass on the posts. Your fellow members ask some very good questions and I’ve found over time that they tend to be representative of what other members are thinking as well.

On to the questions:

WHEN WILL OUR HORSE RUN AGAIN? Every horse is different. Some recover from race in a few days while others may need more than a week. In any case, it takes a few weeks for a racehorse to recover from the effort and get back into the groove to race again. Clay likes a three week period between races as a guideline.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE MONEY THAT WE WIN? In a few days I would anticipate receiving Clay’s bill from the time of the claim through May 31 as well as the vet bill. After I receive those you’ll see a detailed spreadsheet of where the expenses are. A more utilitarian answer is that the money goes into an account in the bookkeeper’s office. In our last race, for example, we won $10,200 for Maryjean winning the race. $2 is deducted on every start to help fund retired racehorse efforts and $1020 (10%) is deducted for the jockey fees. Out of the rest and the money deposited I will pay the rest of the bills – trainer, vet and farrier (usually included in the trainer bill). That is also the pot of money from which we will be claiming another horse.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR ENTERING A RACE? There is a book, called a condition book, which lists the races that plan to be run over a period of time (usually about a month) at the track. The book is divided up into race days and usually has 8 or 9 races per day. There are also another 4 or 5 called substitute races. There is another category called “extra races” that I will get to later.

When we anticipate when the horse may be ready to run we look ahead in the condition book to the races scheduled around that time. When the day to enter comes (usually 3-days ahead of the race day except on Sunday when entries are drawn for Thursday night) the trainer goes to a window in the racing office and enters a horse in via a computer. While there is a video screen that lists all the races and how many entries there are, but no names – no one else knows who the horses are until entries are drawn.

Usually the fullest fields are used, while some rare exceptions. By agreement with the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) the races in the condition book, if full, have to be used. The substitute races are next in case a “main” race isn’t full. Finally there are extra races.

An extra is a race that may be close to being full for the day it was in the condition book but not quite. The racing secretary may have an indication that if the race were to come back the next day there are a couple of other horses that may be ready and the race would fill up so the race is carried over as an “extra”. There are usually several of these in addition to the main book and substitute races.

HOW IS A JOCKEY SELECTED? The trainer decides which jockey may have the right riding style for his/her horse. A particular animal may like softer hands, or more aggressive handling, and the trainer tries to procure the jockey that would best fit his horse. Jockeys also try and secure mounts that will allow them to win more races so there is a bit of a dance between the jockey agents and the trainers to secure the best mounts while not alienating a particular trainer.

These were the latest, but keep the questions coming in and we’ll keep answering them – that is EXACTLY what this is all about!!

The Next Horse

I realize that everyone is chomping at the bit for the second horse – and Clay and I want to bring you one as well. There are a couple of things that we don’t want to do:

– Claim a “project” if we can help it. They are too expensive and carry too much risk. That’s not to say that we won’t make a mistake but we’d like to try and avoid it if we can.

– Buy a horse to just have another. We want to make sure that we have a horse that is going to be competitive and give us a run for our money.

We are looking from $7500 – $16,000 and, as field sizes hopefully start to increase as horses get into shape to run, there will hopefully be more choices available than there have been and provide us with more opportunity. There will be a second horse, I just can’t give you an exact date but with fields filling up there is more opportunity than the first couple of weekends!